First of all, if you are wondering what Sana-di-ge means.. Then here it is.
Sana-di-ge in Tulu refers to the brass lamp lit on auspicious occasions in the coastal belt of Karnataka
And here this one greets you at the entrance
It was a quiet, dark evening that was slowly turning sensuous. Drinks of Mud Slide and Passion Era flowed between us as my friend and I shared a table at a corner of Sana-di-ge, lit up in gold and wood all over, right next to the breathtakingly beautiful chandelier. Brass cutlery, exotic by Delhi’s international standards, graced the table.
The Mud Slide, served in a robust goblet, contained ethereal proportions of Bailey’s, Kahlua, and chocolate – the conventional poco-grande-served Passion Era, too citrus-infused – for us to pay attention to the latter.
Sana-di-ge served us the food in brass plates, fit for two people to eat from, its surface coated with the greenest banana leaves to be found in Delhi. What we began with sent our taste-buds into throes of a very wet, delicious orgasm – the Prawn Ghee Roast – salty, succulent prawns cooked in ghee and dressed with a masala that rose and fell against the tongue. We calmed our excited palates down with the soothing flavours of Baby Corn Butter Pepper Garlic and Chicken Pepper Fry.
Then we turned our attention to the fresh seafood: Pomfret Masala Fry that slid seductively off the endoskeleton on to our banana leaves, Angel Naked Fry that was smoked to a superlative extent, and Kane Rawa Fry whose bitter and curry-coated impact on the palate rather dimmed next to the accompanying seafood dishes.
We couldn’t help but order off Chicken Ghee Roast and Mushroom Ghee Roast as well – to savour the same erotic flavours our meal started with, with portions of Malabar Paratha whose soft, layered crisps set off the same to perfection. This time, we followed up the ghee roast influence with Mutton Sukha, a dish of mutton minced up and packed densely with the salt of Sana-di-ge’s distinctly coastal flavour.
Our main course had to include more portions of the superbly soft Malabar Paratha, this time with two types of chicken – Sana-di-ge’s Chicken Curry and Chicken Kundapuri. The Curry was simply a lighter, more coastal, and silkier version of its North Indian counterpart; whereas, the Kundapuri boasted of a grainier texture and undertones of curry and coconut. They went well with Kerala Uppam, what with its luxuriant enamel of foamed rice.
For dessert arrived a coconut-shaped and –coloured container, the top of which we removed to discover a pristine, profuse liquid interspersed with the oozy, white insides of real coconut. The moist cream kept sliding off our lips as we put the dessert to the mouth, our lips striving to close in on the dripping thickness. How reluctant! Couldn’t get enough, could we, now… For the following few moments, a sweet spoonful of the Elneer Payasam dominated our palate, its silken texture giving way to the ravishing force of the tongue.
The Raggi Mani put the finishing touch to our experience. It was a curvaceous cake of raggi, so smooth and so vulnerable that our fingers couldn’t resist wettening it up and treating it to the hunger-driven tongue, savoured with razor-thin slices of fresh apples. It gave in to a singular tap of the fingers, the wet pencil-thin slit we made a heaven of profuse texture. Finally we put it to the mouth to discover an eerily sweet flavour that gave away its substantial insides. Much to our pleasure, it gave in to whatever was being done to it.
The Sana-di-ge Highpoint
Not a thing about that encounter can be forgotten. The unfamiliar spice that set off the beginning, the dark monsoon colours of the evening, nor the salty textures that touched the ravaging tongue.
The touch of the sensuous flesh against the tongue, the teeth biting tenderly yet hungrily into it, while a plethora of feelings rush through the rest of the body.
The mesmerising, almost misnomerly sweetness of seafood rapidly coats the tongue. The prawns in Sana-di-ge’s Prawn Ghee Roast are inside the mouth. You scoop up more of the dark, salty spice, because your body can’t have enough of what it’s doing to you.
That’s how it’s bound to be, all the time.